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Cook Co. Jail locked down on 'credible information' of gun

Friday, July 09, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Sun Times Media Wire

“Credible information” indicating a gun may have been smuggled in by a visitor or employee to a maximum security facility housing violent criminals Thursday has prompted a lockdown at all ten divisions of Cook County Jail on the Southwest Side.

About 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Cook County Sheriff’s office received “credible information” that indicated a gun may be inside Division 10 of the jail, 3015 S. California Ave., which is the maximum security facility housing 736 male inmates charged with violent crimes, spokesman Steve Patterson said.

Patterson would not disclose where the information came from, but it has been noted as a “credible source.”

The gun is believed to have been brought in sometime Thursday by a visitor or employee, and although no one is arrested in connection to the case, officials are interviewing visitors, employees and inmates, Patterson said.

As of early Friday, authorities are going “inch by inch” and cell by cell in Division 10 to look for the gun. The hallways, tiers, and common areas of the jail are also being searched, Patterson said. Inmates were being taken to a secure facility in the basement or a gymnasium as their cells are examined.

The intensive search started about 9:30 p.m. Thursday and as of 5 a.m. Friday, 1/3rd of Division 10 had been combed, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. New officers may be brought in to continue the search to avoid fatigue.

“At this point, we are actively in Division 10, trying to find the weapon and trying to secure it before anyone is injured,” Patterson said.

No one was injured or being held hostage and a previous report of an attempted inmate escape is false, Patterson said.

All ten divisions of the jail, housing a total of about 9,000 inmates are locked down until further notice, and no one will be allowed in or out. The lockdown that “stopped all movement” in the jail started at 7:15 p.m.

The lockdown is expected to lift gradually as the day goes on, but Division 10 is expected to remain closed for an extended period. With no timeline for the jail to reopen, Patterson said it could take days.

People in the lobby at the time were rushed out as the 80 or so people in the bonding out process -- which takes about two hours -- when the incident first happened were held until about 12:45 a.m. Friday, when they were discharged, Patterson said. All 80 were searched, interviewed and investigated before they were released.

Everyone who walks through jail doors is subjected to a metal detector screening and a pat down, according to Patterson who said they are trying to determine how something like this could have occurred.

Three sheriff's units -- the Hostage, Barricade and Terrorism Team, Emergency Response Team, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit are on the scene investigating, Patterson said.

The HBT and ERT are the equivalent of SWAT teams, while the CIU is a group based at the jail that investigates crimes within, the release said.



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